Another Virtual World 1.0 is shutting down. This time Raph Koster’s Metaplace.com. This after vSide shut down earlier in the year and Google Lively last year. Playing off of Web2.0 I would group these and current worlds under virtual worlds 1.0. They’re similar to Infoseek, Excite, AOL, and Yahoo! – Web 1.0.
A few things defined Virtual Worlds 1.0:
- All about the technology – Classic problem of building a solution in search of a problem.
- Myth of self-expression – In search of a problem, many virtual worlds settled on self-expression as the problem they were trying to solve. Too bad no one was seriously hurting for tools to express themselves.
- Installs – Metaplace just used Flash but most had their own proprietary installs. No one like installs, especially the core audience most of these services were going after.
- Just 3D chat rooms – When self-expression fell flat and they found it difficult to compete with true casual games sites, these worlds were left with little more than 3D chat.
There are however Virtual Worlds 1.0 success stories. IMVU is incredibly succesful embracing it’s core functionality as just a 3D chat. Ameba has been a big hit in Japan by transitioning a community pre-built around blogs into a virtual world. And then there is always Second Life, probably the winner by default.
Virtual Worlds 2.0
As Web 2.0 rose out of the ashes of Web 1.0, virtual worlds will do the same.
Two things I believe will define Virtual Worlds 2.0:
- Built around 3D in the browser – Say hello to O3D and WebGL.
- 3D is for entertainment – Unlike what many believe, 3D isn’t exactly good for communication. What 3D is good for is entertainment.